Manila: Barack Obama has offered to help
Philippine president-elect Benigno Aquino quit smoking, as the
US leader phoned to extend his congratulations, the incoming
Filipino leader said on Thursday.
Obama, who has fought a public battle to kick the
habit himself, called hours after parliament proclaimed Aquino
the official winner of the May 10 election yesterday, the new
president-elect told reporters.
"At some point I attempted some humour," Aquino said.
"I said, `Mr President I understand we have the same
issue with smoking.`
He told me, `Well, I quit that already. I quit, it`s
your sole problem but I`m ready to offer advice.`"
Aquino said the US leader promised to send the advice
"at the time that you decide to quit."
50-year-old Aquino, said by former colleagues to smoke
up to two packets a day, conceded during the election campaign
that stopping smoking would be good for his health and that he
intended to kick the habit eventually.
However, he changed his mind after learning he had
won, saying quitting now would add stress to his life, and he
has pointed out that as long as he follows smoking regulations
and does not bother anyone, he should be free to smoke.
Obama, 48, promised his wife he would quit smoking
when he ran for president -- but has admitted succumbing to
the occasional cigarette several times since moving into the
Aquino described his conversation with Obama as "very
pleasant" and said he found the US leader "very sincere" in
strengthening ties with the Philippines, a former colony and a
military ally in Asia.
The two men touched on a possible visit by Aquino to
Washington, Aquino told reporters, but the Filipino stressed
he would have to attend to other concerns of the state first.